Friday, February 29, 2008

VERY CLOSE TO PAEDOBAPTISM

Well, I am now the closest I have ever been to becoming a paedobaptist in the past nine years.

My wife and I are discussing this together, and we are also going to talk to our elders. I'd like to give them some chances to persuade us otherwise.

I'd like to give any of my Baptist blog readers some chances to if you would like to comment.

Let me give you a brief baptism position testimony.

When I came to the Reformed faith, I became paedo for a few years, but I did not have a deep understanding of the covenant. I became Reformed Baptist in 1999. Even at that time I still recognized that the Reformed Baptist view of only the elect in the covenant from Jeremiah 31 was very problematic based on texts like John 15 and Hebrews 10:31 and Hebrews 10 and 6 and 1 Corinthians 5. Why would there be given warnings at all? Many Baptists suggest that they are merely "hypothetical," but I don't see how that could work at all. These people are excommunicated from something. They fall away from something.

So, I reasoned that perhaps I could stay a Baptist and uphold a kind of two circles view. I did this for many years, even participating in Gene Cook's show "The Narrow Mind" critiquing infant baptism on one program. But later my friend Paul Manata (who debated Gene masterfully) asked me to look at the many passages which speak of the word "children" in holy Scripture. If one does a simple word study on the word "children" they will be blown away by what they find.

So, I reasoned that the promises belonged to them but perhaps they weren't in the covenant. But I saw this as very problematic later because a promise itself in Scripture is covenantal. Indeed, God sees my children as special, as heirs of His promises of salvation.

So finally, I reasoned that OK, they're in the covenant, but perhaps they don't receive baptism, even as most paedos agree that they don't receive the Table until they can examine themselves. But I saw that theologians on both sides agree that baptism is a sign of entrance into the church.

So I then fought it some more. I said to myself, "Perhaps the Reformed Baptist view of elect only is actually true, and those passages which speak of falling away mean falling away from the church but not the covenant." But this is extremely problematic. What is the local church but the covenant people of God? What are the sacraments but covenant signs? The covenant of grace with regards to administration has always included both elect and non-elect. Indeed, it has to on this side of heaven.

So I realized that that wouldn't work. So now I recognize that my children are in the covenant.

How could I then deny them the sign of covenant entrance? Baptism says something of them. It says that they belong to God.

How could I deny them baptism?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

JAY DYER'S RESPONSES TO MY QUESTIONS TO FOLLOW SOON

Hello readers. It has been a good debate thus far. I have sent my six cross-examination question to Jay Dyer and he told me he would answer them as soon as possible. I have appreciated his cordiality in the midst of our debate.

To whet the appetite of our readers, here are the six questions I asked him that he will respond to:

1. Jay, Kallistos Ware admits that the Orthodox have a problem when it comes to the Ecumenical Councils because there were some where bishops were present but the Church does not accept, i.e., the "Robber" Council. The Orthodox try to respond to this by saying, then, that it is the idea of what the "Church accepts," and that's the only way, then, that a Council is viewed as dogmatic. But the problem here is that the Oriental churches (Copts, etc.) do not accept the Formula of Chalcedon and are monophysite. So, how would one "searching out" the truth of Orthodoxy know if he or she should accept the Oriental churches (monophysite) or the Orthodox, based upon that line of reasoning?

2. I of course reject the Pope as you do, but, it seems inconsistent to me that you have such a high view of the Church Fathers here given your thought. You have said that the Eastern Fathers did not accept the *jurisdictional* authority of the Pope, but merely a primacy of honor. But if that is the case, then how do you explain the numerous *Eastern* Father's quotes which very clearly spell out a *universal* primacy with regards to *jurisdiction* when it comes to the Roman Pontiff?

3. Wouldn't you say that Scripture, as part of your tradition, is necessary for faith and life? If so, then how can one not see it as problematic that the Orthodox Church can't even agree as to the extent of the canon (the extent of the rule for faith and life)?

4. If the Holy Spirit proceeds ontologically from the Father alone, as the Orthodox understand, and not from the Father and the Son (filioque), how do you understand the fact that He is called the "Spirit of Christ"?

5. Your quotes on infant baptism have shown once again how paedobaptists beg the question. If infant baptism was so clearly the apostolic practice, then why does it not become universal, as many scholars now agree, until well until the sixth century, and why do we find no clear evidence of it practiced at all until the late second/early third century?

6. How does Orthodoxy deal with the numerous Scripture texts which speak of "atonement" and "guilt" and "judicial reckoning" etc., being that it has an aversion to judicial categories? How does this not further prove that Orthodoxy does not take into account the full biblical revelation?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

DEBATE W/EASTERN ORTHODOX PART 5: JAY DYER CROSS-EXAMINES JOSH BRISBY

Eastern Orthodox Jay Dyer now cross-examines Reformed Baptist Josh Brisby. Dyer's questions are in italics and Brisby's answers are in regular text.
____________

1. Josh, why do you accept Hebrews as canonical?

I accept Hebrews as canonical because the Church accepted it as canonical over time. The issue of canonicity is not a problem for Protestants. We have never argued that a book becomes canonical apart from the thinking of the Church at large. We can furthermore point to the science of textual criticism when it comes to authentic books and inauthentic books such as the gospel of Thomas. I could furthermore reverse the question and ask why the Orthodox do not accept the Didache as canonical, especially because it is a manual for early church worship. Scholars date this around A.D. 95, during the apostolic era.


2. How do you know, apart from patristic tradition, that Matthew, the disciple of Jesus, wrote Matthew's Gospel, if Apostolic authorship is key to canonicity?

I'm not sure when or if I have ever argued that apostolic authorship is key to canonicity. Hebrews, for example, seems to have been a sermon preached and that by someone who we are not sure of. Those who claim it was Paul run into a whole host of problems when it comes to the style of the writer and at other points. Likewise, even when we consider the OT, David certainly was not a prophet, but most of the Psalms were written by him and canonical; some by the Sons of Korah, who were neither prophets nor kings. So, prima facie, something does not have to be written by an apostle or a prophet to be considered canonical.

3. If the Apostles quoted and used the LXX in the majority of instances of NT citations of the Old (as all scholars admit), why do you reject the LXX, intending to follow wicked, Christ-rejecting Jews?

This question assumes a kind of source fallacy. "Look where it came from," says Jay. "It must therefore be bad." I could do the same thing by saying "Look where the Septuagint came from--from Greek speakers, and we all know that the Greeks were pagans." I stay away from these kinds of fallacies. Moreover, the deutero-canon was not accepted by the Jews even *before* they were "Christ-rejecting." Do we think honestly that, furthermore, everything that the Christ-rejecting Jews believed or rejected should all be agreed upon by us? There were things the early church agreed with the Jews about, and things they disagreed with them about. There are good reasons why the Jews did not consider the Apocrypha part of their Hebrew Bible, and it wasn't just for language differences.

4. Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ's persecution by the Jews in Wisdom 2 in your inspiration theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent.

Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ in Isaiah 53 in your inspirtation theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent. In other words, even if Wisdom 2 did predict it, that does not mean that *all* of the deutero-canon is therefore inspired! This commits the fallacy of composition as well as the fallacy of begging the question.

5. What is the nature of the quotes I listed, such as from the Book of the Wars of the Lord, Book of Enoch, etc. in your theory of inspiration, especially where St. Jude refers to a prophecy of the Second Advent? Do you not admit that this is a reference to Christ, and thus not in the same category as a reference of a pagan poet?

My point in my rebuttal was simply that prima facie just because something is quoted does not necessarily lead to inspiration of the whole package. Again, this commits the fallacy of composition. In fact, even some Jewish oral tradition has prophecies of the Messiah that we would say are right on, but of course we would both agree that these are not inspired. If you say they are inspired, then you must abandon your accusation of not accepting the LXX and following the "Christ-rejecting Jews." If you say they are not inspired, then it is clearly not a problem for me when I say that just because something is quoted it does not make that which it is quoted from canonical.

6. Explain with consistency 2 Thess. 2:15 in your system.

Thank you for this question. I'm glad you brought it up. 2 Th 2:15 reads as follows: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

To begin with, the Greek word for "traditions" is "paradoseis," which can have to do with a written narrative as well. According to Thayer, Josephus used this word in the meaning of "precepts, both illustrating and expanding the written law, as they did, were to be obeyed with equal reverence." Note also that these traditions come from the apostles themselves. I have no problem, and nor does Protestantism, holding to apostolic tradition. But the Orthodox church, as well as Rome, claim to hold to apostolic tradition, yet differ from Scripture on several matters, and differ from each other as well (the so-called Church Fathers clearly held to the jurisdictional primacy of the Pope, as I will argue in my closing statement, yet the Orthodox do not accept a jurisdictional primacy, but only an honorary status should he repent). Furthermore, when someone clearly holds to false doctrine, they can claim they hold to apostolic tradition, but we would agree, as you do about the various Popes holding heresy, that they are not truly apostolic.

So, Orthodoxy does not hold to the faith of the apostles since it believes several things which are not in accord with Scripture. Oral teaching cannot contradict Scriptural revelation.

DEBATE W/EASTERN ORTHODOX PART 4: MY REBUTTAL OF JAY DYER'S OPENING STATEMENT

Thank you, Mr. Dyer, for your opening statement and your rebuttal to my opening statement. I refer my readers to Mr. Dyer's website http://www.nicenetruth.com/ for more that he has to say with regards to my opening statement, because, as he noted, he has much to say by way of response to my opening statement, and that could take many pages. We decided to limit our responses so as not to over-burden our readers.

I apologize to my readers that this has also taken so long to get my rebuttal up. My wife is pregnant with our fifth child and her morning sickness isn't so great, so I have been very busy helping with the kids, as well as finishing my credential and Master's in education.

Without further ado, I now rebut Jay Dyer's opening statement.
______________

JAY'S FAILED ARGUMENT FROM THE CANON AGAINST SOLA SCRIPTURA

Suffice it to say that Jay's whole argument from the canon of the Scripture towards Protestants fails on its own terms. Jay argues that, if Protestants don't have the canon right, then we can't hold to Sola Scriptura, and therefore Protestantism fails. What Jay did not tell us, readers, is that Eastern Orthodoxy itself cannot agree as to the extent of the canon! Indeed, Russian Orthodoxy has a different canon than other branches of the Orthodox church. So, Jay says that Protestantism cannot hold because it has the wrong canon, but we are left wondering, then, what is the right canon? Which canon of the Orthodox church should we Protestants accept?

We see, then, that even *if* Protestants had the wrong canon (for the sake of argument--of course I believe we have the right canon as Protestants), that at least prima facie, this is no argument against Sola Scriptura.
______________

JAY'S FAILED ARGUMENT FROM NT QUOTES OF THE DEUTERO-CANON AGAINST SOLA SCRIPTURA

Jay also tries to argue that, since the NT writers quote the deutero-canon in several places, that this supposedly defends the deutero-canon as inspired Scripture, which must prove that Protestants have the wrong canon, and that therefore Sola Scriptura fails. We have several replies to this line of argumentation:

(1) Just because the NT writers quote the deutero-canon in *some* places (I do not for a second grant that they do it in many of the places Jay argues) does not mean that it is inspired. Indeed, the book of Acts quotes pagan poets, but no one would say that those pagan poets were inspired, nor would we say that their writings were inspired. Why should we then jump the gun and say that the deutero-canon is inspired?

(2) The Orthodox themselves have a problem here, because there are quotes in the NT from writings that they themselves do not include in their canon!

(3) Even the name "deutero-canon" itself means a "secondary" canon. Why is this secondary? Even Protestants admit that there are some useful things in the deutero-canon, but we see it as having historical errors, pagan doctrines, and we do not use it as part of our canon; the earlier Hebrews did not count it as part of their canon either. Why should we?

(4) Again, since the NT quotes writings which were at least up for debate as to whether or not they were Scriptural, *and* since the Orthodox church cannot agree on the canon, why shouldn't we, and they, also accept say the Didache as inspired? The epistles of Clement? The epistles of Barnabas? Etc.?

(5) Many of Jay's ideas that the NT is replete with quotes from the Apocrypha begs the question. They take certain sayings of our Lord and, he concludes that, since the saying sounds *similar* to certain ideas or quotes in the deutero-canon, that it therefore proves that these were quotes of the deutero-canon. Jay begs the question here. This is like (no offense to my paedobaptist brothers) those who believe in infant baptism pointing to the household passages and saying "see, infants are in the text." Or pointing to Polycarp saying he served God for 86 years, therefore infant baptism "must" be true, etc. This is a big petitio principii fallacy.
_______________

DYER'S FAILED ASSERTION OF LITURGY LEADING TO CANONICITY

Jay asserted in his opening statement that ancient liturgy in the church led to canonicity of certain books of the Bible. I find this assertion interesting for several reasons:

(1) It is merely an *assertion.* Jay offered no argumentation or evidence whatsoever.

(2) If it were true, then he has a problem, because the Orthodox church does not use the book of Revelation in its liturgy *today* because it is such a difficult and mysterious book. Since this is so, then, once again, at least prima facie liturgy does not *necessarily* equal canonicity.

(3) Even the liturgy of the ancient church changed during the first three centuries. I do not have time or space here to demonstrate this, so I refer my readers to their own studies. But it is clear that the first few centuries of the church's worship were very simple, but, by the third century, new things were being added.
_________________________

CONCLUSION

Jay's opening arguments to refute Protestantism are bankrupt. He did not establish that Sola Scriptura fails because on his own terms, then the Orthodox view of the canon would fail as well. He did not establish that the deutero-canon is inspired Scripture, nor did he establish that liturgy necessarily leads or has lead to canonicity. Indeed, Jay will have to do better than this if he wants to refute Protestantism.
_______________

I now turn the floor to Mr. Dyer, who will now cross-examine me for six questions. My responses during the cross-examination must be limited to no more than four paragraphs each so as not to overburden my readers.

Mr. Dyer, you now have the floor for cross-examination.